Atrios points out a reality that is often overlooked:
Aside from the underclass, there are basically two types of people/families in this country - those who live paycheck to paycheck and those who don't. Some who live paycheck to paycheck may live in an expensive home, have nice cars, etc... In other words, they have for whatever reason decided to live right up to the limit of their means, or beyond. Despite living quite well, they can still feel acutely any negative economic shock, even the relatively modest hit of having gas prices go up. They have substantial payments to make every month - cars, utilities, mortgage, credit cards, tuition payments - as well as lifestyle habits which are hard to break.I would say the great majority of Americans live paycheck to paycheck, even if some paychecks are bigger than others. This is certainly true from my own experience. As my income has risen, so have my expenses. I live in a bigger house than I absolutely need to and I have more luxury items than I used to but basically, yes, I live paycheck to paycheck much as I always have. Although I have more to show for it, all to often, as the song goes, there’s too much month at the end of the money.